Shamans. Potions. Witchcraft. Elixir. None of these are words that many travelers equate with the coastline of northern Peru. Traditional healing, however, is a central part to the different subsets of traditional Peruvian society, and historically Chiclayo has been an instrumental city in the gathering of shamans and healers.
Located inside of the Mercado Modelo—a large central market by the Plaza de Armas that is frequented by everyday shoppers—the Chiclayo Witch Market is a fascinating stop for those who can stomach the surroundings. In these cluttered, colorful, and odiferous alleyways, healers hawk everything from dried snakes and monkey skulls to pieces of Andean condors. A traditional drink made from San Pedro cactus is known for its hallucinogenic effects, and it is sometimes offered to market visitors who befriend a local merchant. For a variable fee, traditional shamans can also be hired to perform ceremonial readings and healings, although be forewarned the process might involve a guinea pig or vomit-inducing concoctions.
The Chiclayo Witch Market can be found in the Mercado Modelo, not far from the Plaza de Armas. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with the morning hours being the busiest time to visit. Though visiting the market can be entertaining, travelers are encouraged to be aware of their belongings and only frequent shamans they feel comfortable approaching.